Xanthan gum is a common food additive that you may consume multiple times a day. In fact, xanthan gum is becoming a popular ingredient in gluten-free foods. Its health benefits are also linked to personal care products, such as toothpaste and creams. Read on below to find out more about xanthan gum.
What is Xanthan Gum?
The bacteria, however, is a deadly plant pathogen responsible for diseases like black rot, bacterial leaf blight, and citrus canker disease. Although safe for humans, this bacteria can devastate crops if not stopped [R].
Xanthan gum has been classified as non-toxic. It has even been approved without limitations by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to be used as a food additive [R].
Xanthan gum has a variety of food applications [R]:
- Salad dressing
- Dry Mixes
- Dairy products
- Baked goods
- Frozen foods
- Fruity drinks
Xanthan gum is made up of repeating units of simple sugars bonded together by bacterial fermentation [R].
Soybean biodiesel, an environmentally friendly fuel, has shown promising results as a substitute for sugars in the xanthan gum production process [R].
Mechanism of Action
Health Benefits of Xanthan Gum
1) Xanthan Gum Treats Diabetes
Diabetes is a chronic condition that impairs the body’s ability to process blood sugar. If blood sugar remains too high, it can cause damage to nerves, eyes, blood vessels, and kidneys [R].
In a study (RT) with 14 healthy male subjects and 4 juice mixtures, the xanthan gum mixture caused the biggest reduction in blood sugar [R].
In a similar simulation of the human digestive process, xanthan gum decreased glucose concentrations without negatively affecting digestive fluid thickness [R].
For those whose diet mainly consists of rice, xanthan gum may decrease its unhealthy consequences. Blood sugar spikes roughly 30 minutes after consumption of rice. In a study of 11 healthy subjects, xanthan gum suppressed this blood sugar spike in humans [R].
2) Xanthan Gum May Help Control Hunger
In a study of 9 people, the participants who consumed xanthan-supplemented muffins reported a sense of fullness [R].
Another study (RCT) confirmed that xanthan gum did not significantly decrease hunger in 21 obese women patients [R].
3) Xanthan Gum May Aid Drug Delivery
Modified-release dosage is very important in many pills or tablets to change the drug’s release rate into the bloodstream Xanthan gum is a great solution to modify drug release [R].
In simulated water systems, xanthan gum-based pills can extend the release of drugs, thus maintaining a consistent dosage over time. This would reduce the frequent need to take prescriptions [R, R, R].
4) Xanthan Gum Treats Dry Mouth
Saliva substitutes reduce dryness for the mouth and throat by replacing natural saliva or activating normal saliva flow [R].
A study (DB-RCT) of 33 patients with severe mouth dryness caused by Sjogren’s syndrome used xanthan gum-based saliva substitutes at different thicknesses. Xanthan gum-based saliva substitutes improved dry mouth [R].
Patients on kidney dialysis complain about dry mouth and thirst due to a mandatory fluid-restricted diet. A study (RT) of 65 patients showed saliva substitutes containing xanthan gum can treat thirst and dry mouth [R].
5) Xanthan Gum Fights Tooth Decay
Xanthan gum is a common thickening agent used in toothpaste. Xanthan gum can form a protective barrier over teeth, thus blocking acid attacks from foods [R].
A study (SB-RCT) with 16 subjects compared the erosive effect of acidic fruit drinks mixed with xanthan gum, showing it reduced enamel loss [R].
6) Xanthan Gum May Fight Cancer
7) Xanthan Gum May Treat Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is a painful joint disorder usually caused by aging joints or obesity. Multiple animal studies showed that xanthan gum injections had a protective effect on the cartilage while also relieving pain. Results are promising for future human-related studies [R, R].
8) Xanthan Gum Alleviates Constipation
In a study of 18 volunteers, xanthan gum had powerful laxative effects on the human body. Amount and frequency of stool production increased with supplements of xanthan gum [R].
9) Xanthan Gum May Treat Dysphagia
Dysphagia is a disorder that describes difficulty swallowing or initiating the act of swallowing. A xanthan gum-based food thickener improved safety and provided therapeutic relief for 120 patients with dysphagia when compared to 14 healthy volunteers [R].
10) Xanthan Gum Might Activate Antibodies
Xanthan gum was able to activate antibody production in mouse spleen cells. However, there is no evidence that this same response will occur in humans [R].
Side Effects and Allergies
If consumed, xanthan gum can cause some digestive discomfort including laxative effects, bloating, and excess flatulence [R].
Use caution when handling xanthan gum in its powder form. Workers exposed to high amounts of xanthan gum powder reported non-life threatening nose and throat irritation [R].
Other than that, there are no known adverse side effects to xanthan gum consumption. An experiment using 5 male volunteers ingested 15 times the acceptable daily intake of xanthan gum every day for 23 days. There were no significant health consequences reported [R].
Xanthan gum has a similar structure to other food proteins and may cause an immune reaction. A study (RT) of 288 human and animal blood samples showed xanthan gum caused a noticeable immune response. Healthy individuals could suffer from hidden food allergies [R].
Limitations and Caveats
Many of the available xanthan gum studies only test on animals, so some benefits may not be replicated in humans. More human trials should be performed before you use xanthan gum for its purported health benefits.
Diabetes patients should use caution when taking xanthan gum. Blood sugar may reach low levels when xanthan gum is combined with diabetes medication [R].
Natural Sources (or Forms of Supplementation)
Xanthan gum is a common food additive manufactured using bacteria. It can be purchased in powder form [R].
- Salad dressings
- Ice creams
- Gluten-free products
Xanthan Gum Alternatives
Xanthan gum can be substituted with the following in many recipes:
The acceptable dosage for xanthan gum is 10 mg/kg [R].
Users absolutely love adding xanthan gum to their recipes. It acts as a great thickening agent, reducing the need for extra carbs in foods such as homemade bread.
Vegan and gluten-free recipes benefit from its binding properties while still maintaining great flavor. Most users report the best use of xanthan gum in protein shakes, milkshakes, smoothies, and ice cream. Xanthan gum helps form the perfect texture.
Xanthan gum is also great to use in self-made beauty products. It provides a cheap and effective way to mix hair gels and lotions.
However, there are no reviews on its long-term or possible health effects.